The Bible is an instruction manual for the Christ follower yet, many believers leave its interpretation up to their pastor or spiritual leader. We subconsciously put our church leaders in the same category as Jesus. We take everything they say as the final say so for our lives when in reality they are JUST man like you and I. Our Pastors, Bishops, Apostles, & Prophets are merely human and they will make mistakes. Most of these mistakes are not out of malice or harm it’s simply because they are imperfect beings who need God’s grace too.
Now, do not use this as an excuse to not go to church or get involved in the local church. It is a necessity, a requirement to have a church to call home and a spiritual leader to give you guidance. You just have to know that God’s Word is the final say so for your life. The only way to know what God says about your life is to open, read, and understand the Bible for yourself. You can hear the best sermon of your life on Sunday but if you go back during the week and study what that preacher said in the sermon, you can hear the specifics God wants you to apply to your life. You and I can hear the same sermon and God is saying two different things to us. So how do you interpret what you read in the thousands of Bible verses?
“The Key to a healthy spiritual life is reading, praying, & worship but if you had to choose only one, reading The Word is the highest priority.”- Janaenicole
In a previous Christian 101 post, we talked about how to get started with reading the Bible. The different ways you can read it and how to find specific topics and stories. That is a great foundation for building a routine that includes reading everyday. I suggest starting there before continuing this post. Click below
Bishop T.D Jakes calls it the stare. He said that when he reads a verse, parable, or story in the Bible, he is determined to get some kind of revelation or lesson from it so he stares at it until it ‘speaks’. He stares until it makes sense. He reads it over and over again in different translations until He finds something relevant to his life or the cultural climate of the Church. He doesn’t always get a sermon from the verse but he does get confirmation, direction, or comfort from what he reads. One day I hope to get to that point in my journey but if I’m being honest, in trying this method it took a lot out of me and required much more physical time than I have to spare. This is a method that takes practice to get good at.
If you are like me and not as deep as Bishop Jakes here is another method that even children can use to interpret Bible verses. It’s called S.O.A.P!
Scripture: Pick the scripture/story/parable you want to start with. Read it in a version that makes sense to YOU! DON’T BE DEEP! This is not about proving anything to anyone because no one will know but you and God.
Observation: What stands out to you? What phrases or words? What questions come from reading it? What do you like? Who wrote it? What was going on in this time frame of the story you’re reading? You can answer these questions in your head or on a piece of paper. Some of these questions are surface level and others are more in depth and may require more research outside of the Bible. Your observation is not just limited to these questions use whatever pops into your head.
Application: How is this relevant to events, situations, and conversations you are happening currently in your life. What characters in the story are like you? If you were there, what would you have done differently? What would this story sound like if it was happening today? Don’t be afraid to make your own translation. There is nothing happening today that is not addressed in the Bible. So compare the situation you’re reading with a real life situation that you know of.
Prayer: Ask God for the lesson. Pray before you read and after you read. Notice how your prayer is different even in the ten or twenty minutes it took to read the verse(s). Pray for change in yourself. Listen for God’s voice and pay attention to what stands out to you because nine times out of ten, this is God trying to tell you something. This is not just a random thought or idea. Be honest, be open! (Psalm 119:18)
It is that simple. This method can take ten minutes or an hour, it is completely up to you. You can use this method in studying anything that is Christ related. I have used it when doing devotional plans on my phone, reading books, bible studies, and even preachers & sermons. The great thing about this method is that the more you do it intentionally the more you will see yourself doing it unintentionally. It will help you grow from a ‘baby’ Christian to a Christ follower that can discern and interpret the Bible for ourself and lean to our spiritual leadership as secondary resources for our faith.
Happy reading! Comment below your favorite scriptures!